Machinery of government - guidance and information

Last updated: 2 October 2017

Machinery of government refers to the structures of government and how they work.

Machinery of government refers to the structures of government and how they work. It includes the changing set of organisations within government, their functions and governance arrangements, and how they work together to deliver results for Ministers and the public.

Adapting the machinery of government is important in responding to Government's policy priorities, environmental pressures and opportunities for better performance.

State Services Commissioner's function

The State Services Commissioner’s machinery of government function is set out in section 6(b) of the State Sector Act as follows:

"Functions of the Commissioner

For the purposes of carrying out the Commissioner's role, the principal functions of the Commissioner are to -


(b) review governance and structures across all areas of government, in order to advise on-

(i) the allocation and transfer of functions and powers; and

(ii) the cohesive delivery of services; and

(iii) the establishment, amalgamation, and disestablishment of agencies.



The State Services Commission works closely with other central agencies in delivering machinery of government advice. The Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet works to ensure that the State sector responds to the Government's priorities, while the Treasury provides advice on financial matters, among other roles.

Staff in government departments should consult SSC at an early stage whenever machinery of government changes are being considered. SSC must be consulted on Cabinet papers that contain machinery of government advice (see CabGuide on the Cabinet Office's website).

How to review the machinery of government

Guidance has been developed for public servants and other employees in the State services on Reviewing the Machinery of Government. It focuses on selecting the most appropriate organisational form when creating or amalgamating Departments and agencies.

This guidance is currently being updated and expanded in scope. If you would like to be kept informed of updates please contact

Machinery of government reviews

Links to Cabinet papers and related information on some machinery of government reviews led by the State Services Commission are provided in the Related Resources section at the end of this page.

State Services organisations

A list of State Sector organisations, including departments, Crown entities, Offices of Parliament, State-owned enterprises as well as other categories, is available on our website.

Agencies in other jurisdictions with machinery of government responsibilities

Australian Public Service Commission
UK Cabinet Office
Government of Canada Privy Council Office